LeBron James Outduels Kevin Durant Despite Painful Shin Injury: Phoenix LeBron James grinned as he jogged back to the locker room for visitors at the Footprint Center late Friday night.
However, not even a painful ankle injury that occurred in the opening quarter will cause a problem for James who scored 32 points as well as 11 rebounds and six assists in his effort to defeat Kevin Durant and lead the Los Angeles Lakers to their first-ever in-season tournament win, 122-119, over their opponents, the Phoenix Suns.
Another time, James and Durant engaged in a tense duel, Durant scoring 38 points with nine rebounds, as well as five assists. Durant had seven points and a rebound in the final quarter, but James came across Cameron Reddish in the corner for an opening three which gave the Lakers an 118-113 advantage with 1:10 left, which Phoenix was unable to beat.
James must work off an unintentional hit that he received from Durant when he drove to the basket with just 4:22 remaining in the first quarter. Durant’s knee landed on James with his left leg. James had to get himself back in the perimeter for a few seconds before having his shin massaged and stretched out on the bench.
James claimed that his injury was sore following the game. He was observed walking around with the appearance of a slight limp. The Lakers are back in action next Sunday, at home against Portland on the road.
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“It never loosened up,” James told me about the shin. “… It was stuck right there right there… Therefore, I tried to maintain my cool, make sure I was fine, and try to keep it stretched in the most loose way it was possible and then play the game to be successful.
“Pretty sore right now. Because the adrenaline is calming down and iced it, now it’s pretty sore.”
The Lakers (4-5) required this win urgently not just because they were playing their first tournament game, but also because it ended the losing streak of three games on the road trip of four games.
Coach Darvin Ham has made a lineup change to help the team get going and start with Reddish (17 scores) and also bringing Austin Reaves off the bench for the first time in the season.
“Everybody agreed that we needed to change up the music a little bit,” Ham explained. “It was not a demotion for Austin. It was just a realignment. If anybody remembers those great San Antonio teams where everyone in the world knew Manu [Ginobili] was a starter. But sometimes to balance out your lineup, you have to put a player of his magnitude in a reserve role so now when the starters go to sit down and take their break, you are not falling off a cliff. You have balance in the second unit.”
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Reaves and Ham discussed at the end of Thursday evening about their change. The swingman responded by making 6 of 11 shots and finished 7 assists and 15 points. Reaves has been a starter since March. 22 of last season.
“I am a competitor,” Reaves stated. “Truthfully I am not going to be in the same conversation. I would have loved to have played better, not having those conversations. I am sure you have won as a group. However, I was taught by my father from an early stage that the head coach should be the one who coaches. His decision is his, regardless of whether you like it or disagree with it, you have respect for the decision of that. That is exactly what I did. We had a good discussion between us about what we believed that we should do to become more effective as a team… being successful is the most important thing.
“… I get it. I can see the signs in the sand. I could see it coming. I have been a bit inconsistent. I have played games in and out. As a team, we have been a bit inconsistent. It is obvious. during this road trip, we were 0-3 up to the present. We had to get things moving.”
The Lakers scored on 12-of-27 3-pointers and this time, they had the biggest second-chance opportunities during this game. In the most significant play of the game, the Lakers had three offensive rebounds before James hit Reddish for the corner 3 to move them to five with 1:10 remaining.
The Lakers beat the Suns 33-23. They also had five triples during the fourth.
“I think it is the first time that we finally got over the hump as far as this road trip,” James stated. “… Finally, we got the momentum shot. And the moment that shot momentum was open, I felt as if the floodgates began to open [early into the fourth] and after that, people began to knock them down.
“… The team has been a bit behind in many of our games, and we have not been able to gain the lead in a few of the games later on that we have lost. This was an enjoyable feeling.”
In the course of the night James who is an avid Ohio State fan, also was able to take some snarky remarks about Michigan State’s rival Michigan and Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh when asked about Phoenix’s defense.
James could not resist a quick joke on Michigan and Harbaugh who was handed a suspension that will last for the duration of the season by the Big Ten conference amid an ongoing NCAA investigation into the school’s official sign that was stolen.
“I think us knowing Coach [Frank] Vogel and his coaching staff,” James stated about Vogel, the previous Lakers coach, when asking about playing against Phoenix’s defense. “We know that he is likely to change his defense and has a variety of defensive plans and a variety of strategies. It is just a matter of trying to understand the game and figure out the moment, when the first quarter, the second quarter 3rd, 4th, and which quarters are they in. We have had some experience with Coach Frank and we can sort of know that plan and be able to take some signals too.
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“So that was key to our success and the best thing about tonight is that we were able to get those signals in and we still can play on Sunday. We do not get suspended like that team up North.”
LeBron James: A Basketball Icon and Philanthropic Force
LeBron James, widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players in the history of the sport, has not only left an indelible mark on the court but has also become a prominent figure off the hardwood. Born on December 30, 1984, in Akron, Ohio, LeBron Raymone James Sr. has seamlessly blended his athletic prowess with a commitment to social justice and community development. This article delves into the multifaceted life of LeBron James, exploring his journey from a young basketball prodigy to a global icon and philanthropic force.
Early Life and Rise to Basketball Stardom
LeBron’s journey began in the challenging neighborhoods of Akron, where he faced numerous hardships growing up. Raised by his single mother, Gloria James, LeBron found solace and purpose in basketball. His prodigious talent became evident at a young age, and he gained national attention while playing high school basketball at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. His incredible skills on the court, coupled with his maturity beyond his years, led to comparisons with NBA legends like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson.
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In 2003, LeBron James entered the NBA as the first overall pick in the draft, selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers. His impact was immediate, winning the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. Over the years, LeBron’s career soared to unprecedented heights as he played for the Miami Heat, returned to the Cavaliers, and later joined the Los Angeles Lakers. With an impressive list of accolades, including four NBA championships and multiple MVP awards, LeBron solidified his status as an all-time great.
Off the Court: Philanthropy and Social Activism
Beyond the basketball court, LeBron James has used his platform to advocate for social justice causes and philanthropy. The LeBron James Family Foundation, established in 2004, focuses on initiatives that positively impact children and families through various educational and community programs. One of the foundation’s most notable projects is the “I PROMISE School” in Akron, a public school dedicated to providing resources and support to at-risk children.
LeBron’s commitment to social activism has been particularly evident in recent years. He has been outspoken about issues such as racial inequality, police brutality, and voter suppression. The NBA star has not hesitated to leverage his influence to effect positive change, using his voice to encourage civic engagement and raise awareness about systemic issues.
Business Ventures and Hollywood
LeBron James has successfully ventured beyond the basketball court, establishing himself as a business mogul and entertainment figure. His production company, SpringHill Entertainment, has been involved in various film and television projects, contributing to the amplification of underrepresented voices in the industry. LeBron’s foray into Hollywood has further solidified his status as a cultural icon, transcending the boundaries of sports.
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Legacy and Impact
As LeBron James continues to make headlines on and off the court, his legacy extends beyond basketball statistics. He has become a symbol of empowerment, resilience, and social responsibility. LeBron’s impact on the game of basketball is undeniable, but his influence on society at large is equally significant. The intersection of sports, activism, and business in LeBron’s life sets a precedent for athletes seeking to make a positive impact beyond their athletic achievements.
LeBron James, with his unparalleled basketball skills, philanthropic endeavors, and commitment to social justice, stands as a beacon of inspiration for generations to come. From humble beginnings in Akron to global stardom, LeBron’s journey is a testament to the transformative power of talent, hard work, and a genuine dedication to making a difference. As he continues to evolve as a player, activist, and entrepreneur, LeBron James leaves an enduring legacy that extends far beyond the basketball courts he has graced throughout his illustrious career.